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He got two quick outs before trouble struck. Chase Utley singled. Gonzalez issued back-to-back walks to Ryan Howard and John Mayberry Jr. Rookie Darin Ruf hit a bases-clearing double and Gonzalez walked the next batter, Domonic Brown.

On the same day Dickey had walked off the mound at Citi Field with 13 strikeouts and his 20th win of the season, Gonzalez was faltering in his quest for win No. 21.

But then Morse homered, a shot with just enough to get out of hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park, and the two-run lead for the Phillies became one.

“If you looked at me I looked like I had a split personality,” Gonzalez said. “I was talking to myself, I was out there trying to beat myself up, just trying to get in my head a lot, trying to figure it out. I think I tried my best to give the guys what they deserved, it was a quality start, and [kept] them in the game as much as possible.”

When Morse came to the plate in the sixth, things were different. Gonzalez had found the form that had made him a Cy Young candidate in the first place and put up four straight scoreless innings and the Nationals led 4-3 — on an RBI-groundout by none other than the left fielder.

With Adam LaRoche standing on second, Morse saw two cut fastballs, neither breaking the 80-mph mark and an 86-mph four-seam heater. When Tyler Cloyd delivered an 83-mph changeup, Morse was more than ready. He swung. He stared. He slowly began his walk toward first base. ESPN’s home run tracker measured it at 451 feet, the second-longest home run Morse has hit this season and the first one to reach the upper bullpen in Philadelphia since Ryan Zimmerman did it in 2009.

“That ball he hit to right-center was just flat-out crushed,” Johnson said. “It’s happening at a good time.”

As the Nationals‘ relievers rose to their feet, Gorzelanny pulled off his cap and reached out, snagging the monster shot and keying an arm-waving, high-five inducing celebration amidst the impatiens flowers.

“Good thing he caught it,” quipped right-hander Tyler Clippard who delivered a much-needed clean eighth inning, his first 1-2-3 frame since Sept. 10. “If he missed it, that would’ve been pretty bad heckling for a few days.”

But there was no heckling, only laughter. They shared hugs and high-fives as St. Louis awaited. They needed three more wins with six to play.